Senators in both parties want drug-settlement ban out of approps bill

But generic drug makers say restricting the settlements would make challenging patents financially prohibitive because the brand-name companies prevail in court more than half the time.

Five Democrats from districts with a large drug industry presence say the inclusion of the so-called "pay-for-delay" ban is an antitrust matter that's outside the purview of the Appropriations Committee.

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The senators have "substantive concerns with the content of these provisions" that "can only be properly resolved through the regular order in the Senate," they wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidDems face identity crisis Heller under siege, even before healthcare Charles Koch thanks Harry Reid for helping his book sales MORE (D-Nev.) and Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

The inclusion of the provision in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill "contradicts both the spirit and the letter of the Senate rules," the letter said. It was signed by Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob CaseyBob CaseyLive coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan Ryan Phillippe to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for military caregivers Dem senators seize on Senate press crackdown MORE of Pennsylvania, Frank Lautenberg (N.J.), Tom CarperTom CarperOvernight Energy: Trump White House kicks off 'Energy Week' Senate confirms NRC chairwoman to new term Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity MORE (Del.) and Kay HaganKay HaganLinking repatriation to job creation Former Sen. Kay Hagan in ICU after being rushed to hospital GOP senator floats retiring over gridlock MORE (N.C.).

The Democrats' letter follows a similar missive from four Senate Republicans last month.

"We believe that the reported bill gives excessive power over such settlements to the FTC — a power that the FTC has shown itself in the past to be unable to exercise in a responsible or economically rational manner — and that the bill would do serious violence to the Hatch-Waxman process for the market entry of generic drugs," the Republican senators write in a Sept. 17 letter to Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMedicaid becomes big threat to GOP’s healthcare revival Unresolved issues, very little time for Senate GOP Valerie Jarrett slams GOP for not including women in healthcare discussions MORE (R-Ky.) and Appropriations Committee ranking member Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: CBO finds 22M more uninsured under Senate health bill | GOP agrees ObamaCare taxes must go | Supreme Court to look at Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections | More tax reform hearings | Green light for partial travel ban | Senate Dems set principles for potential budget negotiation Defense hawks gird for budget brawl MORE (R-Miss.).

The pay-for-delay provision cleared the Judiciary Committee a year ago but did not survive the health-reform negotiations. After it was added to the appropriations bill it barely survived a challenge from Specter (by a vote of 15-15) in July.

The Senate version is co-sponsored by Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyCoal, nuclear vie for supremacy in key Energy Department study GOP senators want surveillance requests from FBI Russia probe Overnight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership MORE (R-Iowa). The House passed the companion version as part of its Supplemental Appropriations Act in March.